Stink Bug Stress (Part 1)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Stink Bug Stress Part 1If you’ve ever done any blogging before, you know about times when you struggle to find topics to write about. 

When this happens to me, I usually start looking around my immediate environment for some inspiration.

So when I was home working on my computer recently and a stink bug flew by, I took this as a sign.

You see, for the past few years, we’ve had stink bugs in our house most of the time.  We usually find 4-6 of these little creatures every day and we’ve become very used to them.  I noticed I am not very stressed by their constant presence, yet many people are.  So why is that?  Why do people like me tolerate this infestation whereas others are extremely bothered by it?

Do Stink Bugs Really Stink (i.e. Suck)?

Does it really stink or suck to have stink bugs in your house?  Well, first of all stink bugs (officially known as the brown marmorated stink bug) really do stink if they become threatened or injured. They also really do suck, as this is how they feed upon fruits and vegetables, which has made them an increasing source of stress for farmers and orchard owners.

But what I’m really asking is does it stink/suck to have stink bugs in your house, especially when there are no good ways to permanently eliminate them?

For more than a decade now, the majority of states in the U.S. have been inundated with stink bugs.  These insects are endemic to Korea and Taiwan, but they first appeared in the U.S. in Allentown, PA back in 1998. Since then, they have migrated to other states on the Eastern seaboard and to middle America as well.

They are not poisonous and they do not bite or sting.  They just crawl around, on floors, walls, and ceilings and sometimes they fly about haphazardly, especially when attracted to heat or light.  Thus, they are much easier to tolerate than say bees, wasps, or spiders.  The main thing is not to step on them, sit on them, or crush them, which causes them to release a foul-smelling chemical substance that can be unpleasant to the senses.

Why Are People Stressed Out By Stink Bugs?

Most people I know who live in my area of northern Maryland have stink bugs in their homes.  The vast majority have adjusted to them very well, as have my wife and I, but almost everyone I talked to knows someone who isn’t coping so well with these persistent pests.  Some parents of young kids are concerned about their children becoming freaked out by these bugs.  Some people have a global fear of any type of insect, harmless or not, so stink bugs are a constant source of anxiety for them.

Some people have trouble sleeping if there are stink bugs in their bedroom, and it’s not uncommon for one to fly and land on your face when you are sleeping. And I even heard one story about a man who was sitting on his couch, watching TV in a darkened room one night, when he reached into his bag of popcorn and chomped down on a stink bug thinking it was a kernel of popped corn. 

So there are many ways that stink bugs can lead to stress for certain individuals, but it doesn’t stink or suck to have stink bugs around you unless you relate to them in certain ways (not counting biting into them accidentally).  In my next two posts this week, I’ll explore one good way to relate to stink bugs and one good way to avoid.

In the meantime, if you are stressed by stink bugs yourself, or if you know any stink bug horror stories, please feel free to share below.


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